2014 Charter Harvest
Even After Restrictions Charter Halibut Catch Exceeds Limits
It looks like the charter harvest exceeded the limits in both Southeast and South Central this year by about 15% and 20%, respectively. I'm curious what your observations were this year. Was it because the fish harvested were bigger than they expected, or for some other reason. Either way, what does this mean for next year? In SE it seemed there were a lot of halibut and bigger than in previous years, but my observations are that is a pretty small sample size.
The article kind of explains why charter harvest was exceeded: In Southeast more fish were kept. In Soutchcentral bigger fish were kept. But neither one are much of an indicator of the size or quantity of fish available....
Originally Posted by AKJOB
If you keep more fish, but they are smaller (Southeast), you can still exceed harvest limits - and if you cull out the smaller fish and keep the bigger fish (Southcentral), even if there are fewer of them, you can still exceed harvest limits.
So according to this article, what smacks me in the face as the solution is requiring less fish to be harvested in Southeast, and fewer big fish to be harvested in Southcentral. Perhaps stopping the Southeast fishery when harvest limits have been met, and implementing a requirement to keep the first halibut caught in Southcentral. I am concerned about their uncertainty with mortality of released fish...I have seen charters release 10-15 chickies per client looking for something 40 pounds. That adds up when there is 10-15 clients on one boat.
My observations: I fished out of Homer/Anchor Point over a dozen times this year. For me, halibut averaged about the same as they have over the last 8 years, and there are fewer of them. Good thing is, I did not catch one "mushy" halibut, as opposed to many in the last 3 years. My opinion: the fishery is still in decline, at least in comparison to "the old days".
More people fished on charters this year. Almost every good charter was full this summer. Plus fishing was great and a lot of better fish.
That would explain by charter catch limits were exceeded.
Originally Posted by MGH55
When a client knows that one of the fish has to be under 29" it makes it hard to get them to kill a 25lb fish. One way to help might be to go to one fish over 45" or two under, with the same size limit as commercial.
Halibut fishing for me off of Deep Cr. and Anchor Pt. this summer wasn't exactly stellar. Pretty much the same small size fish and fewer of them. The bright spot is that there were no more mushy ones so maybe that's behind us. The beach fishing wasn't as steady as in the past either so I feel like we are in a slow and steady decline in Cook Inlet. Plenty of dog sharks though and maybe they are displacing the halibut in some areas.
I would go for barbless circle hooks for any bait fishing on charter boats. In 7 years of chartering the only time I can't think of a halibut that I released that would have not made it. In turn I lost one after harpooning that broke the rope, and one that a crimp let go after shooting with a .410
There is no other fishery in the United States of America where you have to keep fish and then quit fishing. Most would not pay for that trip.
Originally Posted by Funstastic
As far as this summer, the average size went up two pounds because clients would not keep a 25 pound halibut if they caught it first thing because then knew that all that was left for them was a 10 pounder. The analysis should have said that, but it didn't. All things considered, in area 3A we have left 3.78 million pounds of halibut in the water over the prior 4 years. Fish that were allocated to the charter sector that were not taken ( left in the water to live). So we will take some more cuts to try to get to allocation that was handed to us this year but....going over by 400,000 pounds this year needs to be weighed against the past five years where millions of pounds were left in the water and we never got credit for them. Commercial longliners can "roll over" 10%, so if they did not catch those fish one year, they can get them the following year. We do not get that privilege.
If the root problem is that guides are taking too many people out, resulting in those people harvesting too many fish, then limit the behavior of guides.
It is not our client's fault, we are the ones fishing too many people.
Trying to solve management of recreational fisheries by making the experience so crappy that the client does not want to go on the trip is no way to manage.
As a fisherman and guide I would rather be able to offer 5 good trips a week with a fair bag limit and minimal restrictions on the experience for halibut than 7 trips a week that leaves my fishermen clients thinking its not worth taking a charter again. We are at a point where we are going to have to decide which we want.
If there are too many guides for the allocation, then there should be a buy back of permits or od day of the week closures to charter halibut fishing. To degrade the signature sport fisheries of Alaska like Halibut or King Salmon to something that is not worth doing, is not fair to the general public or Alaska residents.
Hopefully abundance will start climbing in 3A. In Seward we had a stellar year for halibut. They were everywhere and they were large.
That did not help the average either.....
I hate to say it, but it might be time to limit the number of clients per year for each permit. The number could be 50 clients for each seat. That would make it that a 6 person permit would allow 300 client per year. If you need more clients you could stack permits. This would give the owner operator of a charter the option to give a high quality trip for a price fitting the trip. Others could still give the short quick trips for a cheaper price, but would need to stack permits to run more clients at a smaller profit margin.
The other option would be to break down the charter quota into pounds per permit seat. We now know how many seats are there to be filled, and who owns the permit. It would not be hard set a poundage limit per permit. Then it would be up to each charter to work within the poundage allocation for their permit. If you need more poundage buy more seats, or now it would be pounds that would go up and down with abundance.
A one day a week closure would put the numbers just about right, assuming similar abundance/limits (~14.3%). Not what anybody necessarily wants but a simple hard number that should produce predictable results.
Are there any thoughts or data about the trend of abundance? Some of the comments seem to indicate improvement, however one captain from the article commented it was tougher.
First, the suggestion was to keep the first two halibut regardless of size - nothing about "quit fishing." The point was to eliminate the ridiculous culling that goes on, which targets the bigger spawners. And with a 5% or less release mortality rate (ref: ADFG), it certainly might be feasible to keep fishing after the first two are kept.
Originally Posted by AKCAPT
Second, to compare Alaska's halibut fishery to what other fisheries do or don't do, is irrational. This fishery is unique to itself, unlike any other in the United States of America.
Third, keeping the first fish caught is a management/conservation method used here in the United States, Canada, and throughout the world.
Finally, trying to managing our fisheries based on what people are willing to pay for a charter, is putting opportunity and charter profits over conservation. Ask yourself what the other 99% of folks do when they can't afford to buy halibut at the store (commercially) - should we just adjust harvest to accommodate them?
So? Are you suggesting we manage the fishery based on the expectations of charter clients? I think the expectations of clients need to change according to the necessary management measures.
Originally Posted by AKCAPT
I'm miffed with your math and cherry-picking....
Originally Posted by AKCAPT
As you can see, using the prior 4 years excludes 5 other years when the limits were exceeded - 6 if you consider log book numbers (which have a high 95% confidence interval). Even if you did cherry-pick the prior 4 years it still does not equal 3.78M pounds, it is 2.85M pounds estimated and 1.06M pounds log book - and over 400,000 pounds of that would already used up from this year's overharvest.
So in the overall picture; going back to when harvest limits were implemented (2003), and using the high confidence of actual log book harvest numbers, Area 3A does not leave anything on the table for "credit". In fact using ADFG's numbers, I calculate an overall overharvest for 3A.
Finally, using your thinking, over the same time period, commercial harvest in 3A should also receive over 2.6M pounds of "credit" - halibut they left in the water.
So? Not sure what makes you think you are a long-liner. Long-liners don't get the privileges of charters either. For example, unlike charters, long-liners pay big bucks for a permit, must stop fishing when harvest limits are reached or be fined, they have their catch weighed and ticketed, they put up with observers, have release mortalities subtracted, etc., and of course their harvest limits are calculated after sport/charter harvests - so when sport/charter harvests are exceeded, the biomass is reduced, and they get less.
Originally Posted by AKCAPT
Not so. Limiting opportunity and access is a legitimate method commonly used to manage fisheries, both recreational and commercial. What's no way to manage, is to prioritize giving a client a good time over conservation. I mean gee whiz...how did we sport fishermen ever survive before the charter boom of the 80's?...just fine.
Originally Posted by AKCAPT
Since when is it "degrading" to implement conservation measures to keep the fisheries healthy and opportunistic for all. I'll tell you who's "degraded" our signature sport fisheries...the charters and guides. They created this mess, and once again exceed their harvest limits. It's time for a change of philosophy both in what charters expect from the fishery, and what clients expect from charters.
Originally Posted by AKCAPT
And the unfortunate part of this entire saga is the fact that the commercial/charter and sport anglers continue to argue while the draggers continue to throw away 4 million pounds of halibut and who knows how many king salmon. If you guys would work together you'd get a lot more done.
No argument...those trawlers are nasty. Not to mention their bycatch is subtracted off the top of the CEY before all other allocations, thus reducing harvest limits for everyone else. But trying to get these conflicting fisheries working together is a pipe dream. The answer is with management - stronger efforts to continue reducing trawler bycatch - perhaps a new "penalize and utilize" philosophy.
Originally Posted by gbflyer
Regardless, two wrongs don't make a right - trawler bycatch is no justification for charters to exceed their harvest limits.
Funstastic, you do know that AKCAPT is a IFQ holder and does longline to fill he Quota. I would like to point out that no matter what you think AKCAPT does know the numbers as good as anyone.
Sorry I should have looked at this sooner. I am short on time here, as I have two other jobs to pay for my charter and long lining hobbies.......
Taking the last five years for comparison is perfectly reasonable. There is no need to go back 10 years or more. We have been operating under a moratorium for the last four years. This is why I went back that far. Those fish were in fact left in the water and if you want to go back further in 3A over all, there have been millions of pounds of fish that were left in the water.
MGH55 is correct, I paid 38 dollars a pound for 3000 pounds for halibut IFQ four years ago and now it is 1000 pounds and I still get to roll over the 10% I do not catch on the one day that I get to longline. and the same should be true for the charter fleet. If you are treating the charter fleet like the longline fleet - "share in the pain and share in the gain" then we should be able to roll over 10%.Which if we did for the four years, we would be even this year.
Recreational fisheries are just that and should be treated in a similar fashion. The concept the halibut is "unique" is a convenient what to say it is okay to screw over recreational fishermen because you want to. The National Recreational Fishing Policy cautions Councils against holding recreational fisheries to a hard cap....For the very reasons I stated above and below:
I agree trawlers behavior is no excuse for charters to exceed our allocation and we will make changes to correct our overages but it is unrealistic to think that in the first year of a new catch share plan that the charter fleet would land right on their allocation when all that has to happen is the average size goes up by two pounds. In fact if you look here:
To save you the trouble of looking at an old document I will paste here a paragraph that explains that keeping the charter industry managed to a hard cap is going to be very difficult.
In February 2009, the SSC ( that is the scientific and statistical committee of the NPFMC - noted that (emphasis added):
“Projecting charter halibut harvests is difficult, because it requires predictions or assumptions about how the consumer demand for charter trips will change through time, predictions or assumptions about how people will respond to regulatory change, as well as changes in the abundance, distribution, and size composition of halibut stocks. The limited time series data available for use in estimation severely constrains model complexity. The discussion paper effectively describes these limitations and how they affect forecast accuracy. It also describes asymmetries in risk and the distribution of risk that arises from under- and over-estimating catch. The forecast methods used in the discussion paper are suitable given current data limitations.
While the resulting forecasts have had large errors, errors of this magnitude are not surprising given the uncertainties in the data, variability in the processes affecting the halibut stock and its fisheries, and the shortness of the time series. Consequently, the SSC believes that the magnitude and range of uncertainties will prevent the forecast accuracy to be anywhere near the plus or minus 3.5% allowed in the charter range allocation of the preferred alternative.”
The SSC suggested that the +/-3.5 percent range was insufficient given harvest estimation uncertainties. The IPHC’s experience in 2011 is the most recent example of the difference between estimated harvest under a regulation and actual harvest. In this case, the IPHC was aiming for the 0.788 GHL and had a harvest of 0.388 Mlb even though the overall number of fish caught between 2010 and 2011 stayed unchanged (note the IPHC had not considered the hybrid approach when it adopted its 37 inch limit).
The fact is that it is not okay to screw our clients out of a good trip to meet harvest goals. It is okay to force regulations on the charter fleet since they are the ones offering this "commercial" endeavor that allows our clients access.
One final thought, lets not begin the discussion about the fact that commercial halibut fishing feeds the masses and charters are only for rich people. Neither a fishing charter nor a 27 dollar a pound piece of fish is feeding or entertaining anyone but upper middle class and up Americans. We are both catering the top 15% of income earners in America. Both are luxury items and both provide a good economic engine for Alaska's economy and our traditional way of life.
But I am going to stop there because this issue is decided in Anchorage in December and talking about further on here is only going to server to confuse readers as you manipulate my reasonable argument by dissecting each sentence. I just can't commit the time on here to post anything else.
good luck with solving these problems on the internet instead of the alternative.
This would be easy to solve if anyone would listen. Charge a 10.00 per NR license for a weekly,15.00 for a two week and 25.00 for a yearly NR lic. Take that money and buy out charters. Start at 100.00 per seat and go up every week until some one sells. Tear up that permit to have it never be used again and you have a painless way to cut the charter numbers and in turn the charter take. NO one is forced to sell and it will slowly but surely carve away at the numbers of halibut charters take. you could also apply some of that money to buy out longliners. Alaskans would not have to pay for anything. Tell me why that would not work?
I would like to see the charter permits rolled into a fixed percentage of the charter allotment. We now have a known number of seats in the charter fleet, each sheet should be a share of the allocated charter harvest. If you need more shares to run your charter buy someone out. Also all nontransferable permits will be fazed out over the next ten years and as of this next year those permits should only be able to be fished by the person named on the permit. If there is a need for a higher % of pounds for charter harvest a user fee could be used to buy longline IFQ and transfer to the charter allocation.
For now the Council is analyzing the concept that kgpr is talking about but in the money will go to buy quota and also to at the same time maybe buy out permits. Right now there are about 33% of the permits that have been used 10 days or less per season for the last four years. These "Latent permits" represent a threat to successfully managing the fishery. I like his concept though and if this fails that may well be how we do it.
Originally Posted by MGH55